Unions meet Duncan today to discuss immigration changes

POSTED: 09/21/11 12:45 PM

St. Maarten – A delegation from the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU) and the Police Union (NAPB) will meet with Justice Minister Roland Duncan at 10:00 a.m. today. Vice Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger set up the meeting after officers from the Immigration Department marched to the Government Administration Building to protest Duncan’s rumored decision to move the border patrol and beat officers from under the police as of October 1.
Representatives of both unions told the media that they are upset because the minister is changing agreements made without consulting them and they have no clarity on how the minister’s action will affect their members.
“This is a drastic decision, all of a sudden. Our status was given based on the agreements signed that Justice remains as it is and out of the clear blue sky this gentleman is making changes and we need answers,” Derie Leonard from the WICSU/PSU said.
The minister’s decision would mean that all of the agencies that deal with immigration – document processing, border patrol and officers who seek out people living here illegally – would be part of one organization. The unions say that goes against agreements made with the Netherlands and decisions made by the former Justice Minister Magali Jacoba for the security aspects to stay with the police.
“We need to know what the plans are. All we’re saying is show what you have and at least come back to us and talk. We’ve heard the minister say that the union should focus on representing the employees and not talking about policy, but as long as the policy affects the workers we’re going to talk about the policy,” E.S. Josepha of the NAPB said.
United People’s (UP) Party MP Johan Leonard, who is Vice Chairman of the Justice Committee, also attended Tuesday’s meeting with the union.

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Duncan has denied taking a decision and pointed that he’s only following laws and decisions that he found when he took on the post. He’s also said that under the current legal framework Immigration is not a direct task of the police.
“What’s happening is that I am busy setting up an immigration office and I have plans to move the immigration officers to the new entity, but I don’t have the full details yet. I can assure them however that there will be no loss of benefits or salary and their job will not change. I’ve just been busy planning,” Duncan said.
There’s also a pledge from the minister that the move to the new organization will provide the employees with a better structure.

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